30 June 2010


We all have it. Some look better then others. We can choose to improve it or tarnish it. It’s Legacy.

The Boss-man and I are building our legacy for generations to come. The Divine path on which we ground our children is for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren’s sake, as well as their own. Ours is built from a foundation that the two of us were set upon.

Our daughters’ inheritance began generations ago. Here is another story from the pages that make our family’s history: 

Grace Most as a single woman before she married Matt Manley

Matt and Grace's family photos for Kits Merryman's THE NEWS TRIBUNE web site presentation.   (Russ Carmack/The News Tribune)  Grace’s mother, Delia, introduced her to Matt during the depression when work was hard to find. Matt made a dollar a day. He was a truck driver for Western Farmers. Delia (Granny) was the cook for the workers and found a nice young man well suited for her daughter. They were married June 30, 1934. They built their house across the street from Granny and Pop. A few years later,
Matt Manley as a Army PFC in 1943

Matt and Grace's family photos for Kits Merryman's THE NEWS TRIBUNE web site presentation.   (Russ Carmack/The News Tribune)  the house moved to the parcel next door to the folks. Matt and Grace lived in the same house their entire married life.  Matt drove truck all over Europe, chasing down Hitler and his destruction. He delivered men to Normandy and drove supplies to the front line and into enemy territory, while Grace kept the home fires burning. When Matt returned, they reared their children and kept 9,000 white “leg’urns” for eggs in a growing and hungry post war population.

(Photo I.D. left to right:  Rick holding onto a rabbit and his brother Jerry  posing for a Easter picture as they were standing infront of their families 1951 Chev.  

Matt and Grace's family photos for Kits Merryman's THE NEWS TRIBUNE web site presentation.   (Russ Carmack/The News Tribune)

Their youngest son and wife and all their children are neighbors to that little house on Route 3. Generations of kids chasing spring calves and slamming the summer screen door, picking autumnal apples and nibbling finska kakor and gingersnaps on a Christmas Eve.

On Gramps last tractor, he sits with Gran; a photo taken for an article written up in the local rag, on the celebration of their 72nd anniversary.

 Matt can't walk a long distance so he rides around his property on his John Deere riding mower.  His wife Grace is with him.   

Matt and Grace Manley  celebrated their 72nd. anniv. on Friday.  They are 92 and 91, and still live in the house they built 71 years ago.  Better still, all of their children still live within a mile of them.  They are having a barbecue at 5:00pm.

Gramps passed away the following August after their 73rd.

Matt and Grace left an important standard to their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren that Mike and I are not about to tarnish.

In a weak world, we fuss about our happiness and what we deserve.

Economic depression, nor loss of a child, a war and several countries betwixt them, sunup to sundown hard labor did not make these two throw in the towel, it made them stronger and more resolve that marriage was for a lifetime.

Thank you, Gran and Gramps for a heritage worth passing on to “generations to come”.

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Acts 2:38,39-

Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call."

23 June 2010

Becoming Mrs. Mike

The Things You Forget...

…the thing that sparks that forgotten memory; or the timing and circumstances in which that recollection returns.

Memory recently swept me back to a very little classroom I once sat in. I was twelve.

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Hanging on a wall, in our home, for at least 15 years now, is a movie poster for the film-noir mystery classic with Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier by the name “Rebecca”, based on the book of the same name by Daphne Du Maurier.

Great film; it also happens to be my Christian name.

When I was in the process of having “Rebecca” framed, I had been searching every possible outlet (no Internet, I was hoofin’ it) for a movie poster for the book inspired, 1949 film, with Dick Powell, and Evelyn Keyes as “Mrs. Mike”. No poster existed: All I could find were small replicate lobby cards for the movie.

Again, the name game- Rebecca is married to Mike.

Sometime late last summer, shopping an old thrift store, I’d found a box, only just brought in, filled with very old books, many published as early as 1900. I found among them “Mrs. Mike” by Benedict and Nancy Freedman. Suddenly, reminded of the 1949 movie and my seemingly exhaustive, forgotten search for a poster to hang beside “Rebecca”; of course! the movie was first a book!

As the rhododendrons began to bloom this spring, I plunged into “Mrs. Mike”.

I found something so familiar about the story and a surge of memories came flooding over me. My sixth grade teacher read this book to our class when we returned from lunch! I was completely taken into the Canadian Wilderness! I wanted to be Katharine Mary O’Fallon, marry a big man with blue eyes and dark hair and take off to some rugged country! I wanted to be Mrs. Mike…

…and that’s what I became.

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Like Sgt. Mike Flannigan, the Boss-man is seldom out of humor but instead of Mounty red with navy riding breeches, polished, brown leather top boots, Mike wears Carhartt canvas, dungarees, mud kickers and has no desire to sit a-top any horse. He gave me the blond and blue-eyed babies I knew I wanted and a life ever-changing, braving, desiring, the turn of corners unknown. But it’s not so much the similarities between the Sgt.Mike and the Big Guy, rather what both Katharine Mary and I had to understand of the men we married, their nature and whom they needed as wives, to becoming the great men they were born.

God was guiding, through a novel, a girl, staring out the window through the valley that school year, planting seeds she was unconscious of until she became a wife of many years; concepts that meant nothing to a twelve-year-old but within a few years, articulated by rite of passage into wifery. As Christ is the author and finisher of my faith, so as well, my job as wife. Far from the wife my husband needs me to be- I still get angry, wish my own way, neglect the laundry, and spend money I ought not- the Boss-man, through the Holy Spirit, continues to shape me into the Proverbs 31 spouse.

I am my husband’s wife.

I am Mrs. Mike.

Many a-misguided couple influenced our early years of marriage, but as I savor every line of my long lost novel, I see how God had cultivated deeper, the truth about men and their maids, poor advice had only temporarily distracted. We now watch our own girls begin quietly, instinctively shaping with age-appropriate awareness who they will be as wives and mothers.


                     *      *      *      *      *

I had forgotten, all these years, the reason I knew about “Mrs. Mike” was the book, not a movie or its poster. I had lived the North Country and its adventures, nigh thirty years past, and of being Mrs. Mike: the real motive I pursued that dog-gone movie poster in the first place!

15 June 2010

Dusty Old Books

Between the shelves of an old second hand shop, you may well find us, perusing countless book spines; heads cocked, fingers skipping over vertical titles, shoulders contorted, sporadic sneezing. Eyes focused on design indicating era.

And the era which I speak? A few, I suppose. Generally, publish date- prior to the mid-1940’s. (Give twenty years or so before modern philosophy leaked heavily into children’s books.)From turn of the twentieth century to WWII, Gibson girls to USO volunteers, cowboys to executives, a wide array of characters from diverse occupations and passions.

The smell of stuffy, yellowed pages; the feel of the thick leaves and their crude, textured edges; the personal, tender inscriptions; the lost print because press-ink missed contact with the paper; the study of characters and culture.

Mostly, we find books of godly wisdom and temperament that once helped shape the moral code of society. Stories that not only entertain, but draw its reader into aspiring virtue. The unknown story, by a little known author, becomes adventure: A risk well worth a couple bucks.

Certainly, the unpleasant task of tossing a book has befallen us, because some ‘progressive’ in 1911, say, took notion to write his perverse thoughts on paper for the world to see. Eek! So very inflexibly minded of us, I know, but then, walking the narrow path appears to others as quite restricted.

Of course, we’re excited to find the classics in literature- Dickens, Austen, the Bronte sisters, Verne, and Dumas, to name a few. However, the girls and I hit an equally desired jackpot for the ‘new’ novelist- Zane Grey, Jackson Gregory, Pearl S. Buck, Laura Lee Hope, Frank Dixon and Caroline Keene, Dorothy Sayers, James Herriot, Harold Bell Wright, Gene Stratton Porter and truly, countless others.

Books that justly, have improved us for having read them; the disposition of the authors from which such stories sprang shows some greatness of character!

There are plenty who accumulate old books for antiquity but few of us take them in for the quality of what lies between the boards (or what does not lie within anyway). Not a ‘collector’ by trade or ambition, though we have a collection. We are readers; we love history and the future it predicts. Nothing new under the sun, says King Solomon and these old treasures of the past are proof.

"Whatsoever things are good..."

10 June 2010

Fisherman, Shrimperman.

Shrimp Daddy (2)Mike, along with Pop and George, headed out to Point Defiance in the Puget Sound to launch George's boat and go shrimp-ing for the day. The Boss-man's done plenty of fishing before; welcome in a new adventure! North through the Colvis Passage to 'area ten' east of Bainbridge Island.

Shrimp pots dropped at 7am- season open.

Now, this was no "Deadliest Catch" episode, much to the daughters' dismay. They thought Big Daddy was going out to face wind and snow, ice and death! Hunter-gatherer, desperation of providing for his wife and children left back at home, keeping the home fires burning, risking his own life and limb for, for...

What?! This is all you get in a five gallon bucket?! That's the legal limit?! You've got to be joking! 4:30am for 80 lousy shrimp? an hour drive up the Sound to have caught limit in an hour?

Was it worth it? Is value not in eye of the beholder.

To share in the body of Christ for a day, to soak up some sun in the beauty of island coastlines of the Puget Sound, to see what captains Vancouver and Cook saw as they passed through these waters, to marvel at creation and the feast it provides for body and soul.P8224373

And the shrimp? Please don't make me buy frozen ever again-

Yep, it's that good!